A friend invited me to an email recipe exchange, and I realized – I don’t cook as much as I used to. I eat very simply these days.
Stuck at home, the comfort of comfort food is all the more comforting.
But I was looking for a recipe to share, and thought – now we all have a little more time on our hands (although is life as busy for you as it is for me … still?), I am choosing to slow down and enjoy the solitary life by cooking a little more. And cooking with fresh food from the garden, or from a local farm stand feels healthiest. Most farm stands around here are on the honor system – you can take your food and leave a check or cash.
I came across some favorite recipes from my book, Chefs on the Farm, one of which is such a great springtime brunch dish, I thought I’d share it – I hope you like it!
Chef Karen Jurgensen can poach eggs perfectly – and in this delicious spring brunch recipe it is all about the colorful hash of luscious pork belly, deep red baby beets (or sunny yellow beets, or both!) and whatever other springtime veggies & herbs you have access to – bright green chives & snap peas, fresh thyme.
Baby Beet Hash, Pork Belly & Poached Eggs
(Yum!) This recipe is from:
Chefs on the Farm: Recipes & Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts
(Click on the image below to order my book on Amazon!)
At one of the many turning points in my life, a generous friend gave me a beautiful candle.
Girls love candles.
It was a stout, cream-colored, 4-inch tower in a pretty smoky-gold crackled-glass holder. The kind I would never, at the time, spend money on for myself.
And it changed my life.
Let me revise that … I changed my life. The candle was just – I was just – we were just – in the right place at the right time together.
With all I was going through – a lost marriage, a breakup, struggles with finances and habits, a new job, and the prospect of building a house through a low-income program that would mean working 7-days-a-week for a full year between job and construction, I knew the concept of living in the moment was what I needed to survive. Literally.
I don’t know what happened, but the candle sparked something in me. (No pun intended!)
Up to that point, I had been trying (pretty darned unsuccessfully) to meditate, to even BREATHE, to walk the beaches to calm myself, to find some inner peace I’ve heard so much about from the numerous books, websites, people and ideas I was trying to surround myself with.
It wasn’t really working.
Then I received the gift of a candle.
I wanted to look at it every day. My friend had such a calmness about her, that I felt it was infused with her friendship and love.
So I decided to make it a part of my daily ritual. To actually try to create a daily ritual.
Tentatively at first. I lit the candle and sat in front of it for a few minutes in the morning with my coffee, silent and breathing.
But one day led to three and seven, and even with stops and starts, I found that a daily ritual of lighting a candle, of breathing, of taking a few minutes to calm my mind, began to change my internal world.
“A schedule defends against chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.” –Annie Dillard
That one candle was substantially larger than all the tea lights I had grouped around it on the little shrine I began to build. Pebble by shell by Buddha figurine. So I made a circle around it.
Three small candles for “yesterdays”. I’d light them and say: Thank you, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I survived you.
Three small candles for “tomorrows” – Thank you, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Get me through this thing.
“What used to be a hunch gradually becomes a working part of the mind.”
And then I’d light the BIG candle, the one I knew I needed to focus on, right here, right now, standing at the head of the circle. The chairman of the board, as it were.
The “Today” candle. This ritual seems so simple, but for me, this simple act led to a cascading effect – of helping me focus daily on a process of finding peace – and eventually focus and productivity in my life. And art.
The Today Candle led me to my art – which literally would never have happened if I hadn’t started setting some time aside to sit quietly and listen to myself and slowly figure out what I really wanted.
Do you have something in your life like the Today Candle? Something, that when you look back, you realize it was a turning point?
When I visit South Beach on San Juan Island, I am amazed by the geological diversity on this edge of land. Colors of stone from white to green to pink, brown and black. Textures from soft and round as if the stone bubbled up from the sea and was frozen in time, to sharp and broken boulders, cracked apart and brought here by ice.
As with any artwork, questions must be answered before proceeding. Which point of view do I take? What do I include or edit out? What tools do I use? I try to keep it simple, looking for lines that connect and contrasts that are interesting to me. Charcoal, another mineral, is so fascinating – I used to hate how it got my fingers black and ended up on my clothing, how awkward and dark it was. But like many things, of course, I didn’t understand it. Now, I am slowly coming to love how it can be as diverse as these formations, from hard to velvety, from chunk to powder.
My psyche is always overwhelmed by the beauty and opportunity I have to draw and paint this place. I could be here every day for the rest of my life and never capture even a little of what goes on here – in glacial time, or human time.
If you were to name your artistic grandmother or grandfather, who would that be?
Many people have an artistic lineage that you work in response to. For instance, for my friend Teresa Smith, it is Emily Carr and the Group of Seven, the Canadian painters of the early and mid-20th Century that had a spiritual and symbolic connection to the landscape they painted. She identifies with their spiritual approach to color, and works with the landscape to bring out these symbolic and underlying themes of light, transcendence and internal essence.
For me, I have a LOT of artists I’m always looking at, but a few I really identify with, not just the way they paint, but the way they lived.
One of those painters that is incredibly important to me is Morris Graves (August 28, 1910 – May 5, 2001), one of the “Northwest Mystic” painters in a group of friends and creative colleagues dubbed the Northwest School, that included Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson and Kenneth Callahan, and others.
When I approached a recent assignment in the Trowbridge Atelier where I’m studying in Georgetown at Gage Academy of Art – to paint a “cornucopia,” I immediately thought of Graves’ “Summer Still Life” with its dark colors and flat perspective, amazing composition and mysterious symbology.
I created a cornucopia of my own, also set in nature, like Graves does, but in this case, located at my favorite beach, South Beach in American Camp, National Historical Park, San Juan Island. Since I was in Seattle at art school, I relied on a still-life set-up I created in my apartment, and then placed it in relation to my many photos and memory of South Beach.
Then I created two canvases – one a daytime scene, and one a nighttime scene. I love how Graves’ scene is kind of in the middle – you can’t tell whether it is day or night. So I made both – and it was fascinating to work with the more abstracted shapes and try to create a sense of moonlight and how that light is different than sunlight. I took pictures of my setup at all times of day and night.
Then I flipped the image, so day and night would be mirror images of each other – kind of Alice in Wonderland meets Morris Graves.
Having an image, an artist, a friend like Morris Graves to be by my side through this process was very comforting – like I have with me a kind teacher gently nudging me this direction or that. My Atelier teacher and mentor, Kimberly Trowbridge, is that person for me IRL – but as artists, we also need our artistic ancestors with us at all times, so we can have that dialogue with them, too.
What artists – living or gone – are you having an artistic dialogue with in your work?
The Green Vine offers a jumping-on point for wine lovers interested in eco-friendly drinking.
Most people don’t think about wine too much; they just drink and enjoy! Yet more and more people are thinking about where their food comes from—and wine is food, too. At root, it’s an agricultural product that faces many of the same industrial, environmental, and economic issues as that sustainably-raised steak or fresh home-grown salad on your plate.
With The Green Vine, you have a charming and accessible guide to “green” wines and how you can drink smarter. From deciphering labels to examining cork materials to clarifying the various levels of organic and biodynamic certification, wine writer Shannon Borg demystifies eco-friendly wines. She provides a practical overview of West Coast vineyards and wineries that use both traditional and modern sustainable practices.
Here, you’ll find detailed information on:
200+ green vineyards and wineries in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Idaho
Certified Organic, Salmon-Safe, LIVE-certified, Sulfite-Free, Biodynamic—what do all these certifications mean?
Profiled winemakers and growers who are leading the green wine movement
Recommended wines to try
Growing techniques, soil health, and water resources
Winemaking methods, additives, and byproducts
Packaging materials and their impacts
Winemakers are starting to take environmental stewardship seriously, changing how they grow grapes and make wine. With The Green Vine in hand, you can raise a glass of Cabernet or Chardonnay in support!
About the Author: Shannon Borg is a writer, editor, poet, and wine educator. She lives in Friday Harbor, Washington, where she writes about wine for various publications. She has published a book of poems, Corset (Cherry Grove), and a cookbook, Chefs on the Farm: Inspired Lessons and Recipes from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts(Mountaineers Books). Shannon holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington and a PhD in poetry and literature from the University of Houston, and has taught writing at the University of Houston, Seattle Art Institute, the Richard Hugo House, and Spokane Community College. She also holds certificates from the International Sommelier Guild (Wine Fundamentals I & II).
We think of the beach as being composed of grey/brown sand, white shells, blue water. But every beach has its colors. Where I live, on San Juan Island, I am continually amazed at the intensity of the colors I find even on a grey day. Today at South Beach it was misty and overcast, but the stormy weather had washed up all sorts of seaweed, from iridescent pink to olive-green. Crab shells, driftwood, eelgrass, rocks. An endless array of the colors in these fascinating organic forms!
For this large piece, first I crinkle up (yes, basically destroy) a sheet of worn, torn, old colored construction paper. Each paper is then painted in thin, dripped acrylic paint, letting the paint create its own landscape. I find connections between the random form the paint takes and the landscapes from the birthplaces of my 16 great-great-great grandparents, who came from Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Wales and England.
These landscapes are a combination of imagined and real, from memory and dream. I love how the forms then work together as a group, as in our memories, visions are often overlapped and bumped up against each other.
Oyster shells are endlessly fascinating to me. I love the variety in their shapes and colors, depending on the species and the manner and place in which they are grown. Oysters are really what made me an artist. I started drawing them, then painting, discovering how to see and interpret what I am looking at.
o The perfect “treat” for foodies, organic gardeners, cookbook addicts, and sustainable practitioners alike
o Sustainability is an accelerating trend in the food world
With the rising interest in organic and locally grown food, there is also an increasing interest in connecting the farm to the table. Chefs on the Farm describes the seasonal workings of Quillisascut Goat Cheese Farm, a small, family-run business in northeastern Washington state. There, owners Lora Lea and Rick Misterly started a “Farm School for the Domestic Arts” where every summer, professional chefs, culinary students, food writers, and others live and work on the farm. Cooking only with ingredients they find on the farm, students learn to be connected to the food they work with.